One of the few things that does not shrink when people get older is their foot. The tendons and ligaments lose their elasticity and they no longer hold the bones and joints together as they used to, which leads to fallen arches and a wider forefoot. It has been estimated that some people over the age of 40 can gain up to half a shoe size every 10 years.
The fact that all our weight is placed on our feet exacerbates the problems associated with them.
As feet age, the fatty pad underneath the ball of the foot can wear thin so that there is no longer a cushion, and it feels a lot like you are walking on the bones. This can lead to great discomfort, corns and calluses.
Gravity can overwhelm the older body. When standing, the circulation is less efficient, so fluid is squeezed from leaky veins into the lower legs, causing them to swell and effectively making them bigger. The skin loses its elasticity, becoming dry and thin, so it can easily be damaged and takes a longer time to heal.
Conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis and peripheral arterial disease aren’t strictly age-related, but the risk of having these conditions increases with age. Certain surgeries like hip and knee operations also become more prevalent.
However, painful, sore feet are not a natural part of the ageing process. A lot can be done to prevent problems, relieve pain and improve mobility.
Check your feet for changes. Get into a routine of inspecting your feet daily; using a mirror might help. If you experience sudden pain, changes in colour, swelling, or infection, see The Podiatrist.
It is very important to nourish your skin on a daily basis. Use a thick lotion or cream on your legs and feet, taking care that you don’t slip when it is applied to the soles of your feet. Nails become thicker and more brittle as we get older. This combined with a less efficient blood supply can make toenail cutting more difficult and less safe. Have The Podiatrist cut them correctly for you.
Ensure you are wearing the correct style of footwear. Purchase shoes in the afternoon or evening. This is when your feet tend to be most swollen. Purchase shoes with a lace or velcro strap so they are held securely to your feet. Leather is the best material for the upper of your shoes. Avoid plastic shoes as they won’t stretch to accommodate your feet. A cushioning insole can be an added comfort, but be sure that there is enough space in the shoe to accommodate it. Remember, when you buy a pair of shoes, you should not have to “break them in”. They need to be comfortable at the point of purchase or you may end up with blisters and sores.
Ageing feet need regular exercise to tone muscles, strengthen the arches and stimulate the circulation. Try to exercise every day.
If you are young or able and have an elderly relative or friend who is infirm, check their feet and assist them where possible, as many a neglected foot is hidden within shoes.
For all your foot care needs- See The Podiatrist
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